Tamiya 1/35 JSU-152

KIT #: 35303
PRICE: $59.00 MSRP
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Bill Koppos
NOTES: A Tamiya slammer


The JSU 152 was a development of the KV based SU 152, this time a 152 Howitzer on a Josef Stalin chassis. This vehicle was used as basically a big mobile nutcracker, able to blow down medium size buildings and Panther turrets with one shot. Used in independent units, these were called in when the going got rough. The huge slabs of frontal armor were good against German 75mm fire at medium range, it's main disadvantage was the Ammo was so huge only 20 rounds could be carried internally. Russian soldiers referred to it as "Beast Killer", and said of it "Nekrasivo, no Spasivo" ("Not pretty, but thanks!") Use started in summer 1944 up till the fall of Berlin, and postwar.

                    This brand new model kit from Tamiya is another excellent addition to their parade of armor. Based on the recent JS-2 Stalin Tank kit, the Beast Killer is beautifully represented. The first thing one notices on box opening is that there are much fewer sprues and parts than a Dragon mega kit, looking much less scary to part-time armor builders like me. Molded in Dark Green, the main parts are textured to represent the rough castings of Soviet factories., featuring rough torch cuts and pitted plates in the right areas. The big ol' main gun is well molded, the muzzle brake's fine slots are beautifully done.  The wheels have no center seams, just clean up the sprue nubs and install. A plastic line-up tool is in the kit to make sure all the suspension arms are in line with no wheel wobble. Each wheel including the return rollers have poly caps in them, more on this later,. Two types of tracks are given, a link and length set and a rubber set. The rubber set looks well done, but these are really obsolete these days, and Tamiya could have saved the money. The cast set is nice, but has ejector pin marks that might drive hardcore armor guys crazy .(I just let them be). There are some extra links, which is good, as I wanted a lot of sag in my tracks, as seen in photos. Photo-etch intake screens are included, as is a rope and end tow cable and clear headlight. The decal sheet allows choice of 4 hulking vehicles.

                    2 Crewmen are included, a loader (looking too anemic to sling  around 152mm shells) and a "Chef de Char" (commander). If you are going to crew your Beast, put the commander in before the hatches, or he will not go in. I buttoned mine up.

                     Assembly, as in all Tamiya products, is a breeze. Fit is great all around. Just follow the instructions and all will go smooth. Tamiya gives you a jig for the top run of track, with a "wave" in it to give the track it's sag, but I wanted more.  I started by attaching the straight bottom run, then worked my way around the front and rear by glueing short sections together, letting the glue set up, and bending as needed  to get the sag I wanted. The links were also glued to the wheels as I went.  I think I used 2 more links per side than standard.  When done, this thing was badly in need of track maintenance, just like pictures I'd seen of vehicles in Berlin. These things sag worse than Grandma's-well you know. The poly caps in all the wheels let me use a trick. When I had all the track links glued on and thoroughly dry, it was possible to carefully, moving back and forth, slide the assembly off the hull as a unit. The only problem here was the mud scrapers glued on to the hull stuck into the drive sprockets, I broke 2 teeth getting the tracks past these. If you do this trick glue the scrapers on after reassembly. Having the track assembly off greatly eases the painting/weathering process. (Even though I found it very hard to wait to get it back together). Another thing I wanted was the front fenders torn off. Very few Russian tanks from this urban environment had any fenders left, so I just left off both assemblies, and beat up the remaining fenders using the ancient hot-light-bulb method.

                    Painting starts with a coat of  Testor's Flat Black, then the base coat of ModelMaster Russian Armor green. Then some white was added, and the larger flat areas lightened up. The tracks were done with Panzer Grey mixed with a dab of Aluminum, spraying carefully around the wheels. Now the good part starts. I mixed some "Concrete" (light grey) and "rubble dust" (Tan and white) and started streaking underneath and the sides randomly. At this point I realized "Holy Crap, I forgot the decals!", so I applied a coat of Tamiya Spray can clear gloss to the decal areas. If a vehicle is in Berlin, it must have it's ID stripes, and the one with the stripes and stars can be seen on U-tube, crawling thru the wreckage. The Tamiya decals worked fine, reacting to Solvaset perfectly, and laying down showing no film. I recently picked up the Mig Pigment's "Urban Combat" set, which includes "Concrete", "Rubble Dust" and Brick red pigments. These I mixed with some water and proceeded to smear them all over my beast. I wanted this 152 to look like it just bowled over an apartment building on Wilhelmstasse. Testing showed the pigments would disappear under a flat coat so I left them as is. Time will tell if they hold up. But for now, I like the look. Finally I rubbed all the contact surfaces of the tracks with good ol' Silver Rub 'n Buff. In place of the left hand fuel cells I put a large log (from my yard) as per a picture I saw.  Some rust streaks and exhaust and muzzle blast and I called it done.

             Overall I'm happy with my Beast. It's an easy build  yet authentic model of a vehicle I always found neat. I use Tamiya armor as a break from aircraft when I get sick of interiors and canopies. This one is a lot of fun, give it a try. 

          Eastern Front Camo and Markings  Zaloga and Grandsen  Arms and Armour  1983
           Wikepedia and Google Images 

Bill Koppos

February 2010

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